Category: PASS General

24 Hours of PASS: Growing our Community

June 16--Next week, beginning 12:00 (noon) GMT on June 24, PASS will present the 24 Hours of PASS: Growing our Community: 24 one-hour online webinars by talented speakers. The event will deliver SQL Server and BI best practices, expert tips, and demos from around the world, spread across these subject areas: 

  • Application & Database Development
  • BI Information Delivery
  • BI Platform Architecture, Development & Administration
  • Cloud Application Development & Deployment
  • Enterprise Database Administration & Deployment
Professional Development


The sessions are free but each is limited to 1000 registrants, so advanced registration is important. Follow us by using the #pass24hop hashtag on social media. 

PASS Town Hall Q&A Webcast

June 18, 2015--The second quarterly Town Hall Q&A webcast took place on May 27, with more than 70 people in attendance. Thomas LaRock welcomed the audience and spoke about how the Board is continually looking at facilitating two-way communication within the community and how to contact the Board on the SQL PASS website. Before kicking off the session, Thomas introduced the panel:

    • Denise McInerney: PASS VP, Marketing (and moderator)
    • Amy Lewis: PASS Board Director at Large, Programs
    • Jennifer Moser: PASS Board, Microsoft-related questions
    • Lance Harra: Lead Program Manager, PASS Program Committee

With a focus on the Summit Speaker Selection process, the one-hour long webcast included an overview from myself (Amy Lewis, PASS Board of Director at large, Programs) on the process and timing from this year’s committee along with a considerable number of questions from the attendees for the Program Committee and the Board.

I thanked the panel and the program committee team and then summarized the committee’s processes for speaker selection.

In late January or early February, the Program Committee conducts a Call for Volunteers. Volunteers play a critical role in evaluating abstracts and helping to select community speakers. A total of 70 volunteers work together from mid-March until Summit. After the Call for Speakers closes in mid-March, the volunteers are broken into four teams:

Speaker Review Team: This team of eight volunteers review credentials, experience, and past attendee feedback to qualify speakers. This year, a total of 285 people submitted abstracts for Summit 2015, and the team goes through and rates each possible speaker. After all scores are submitted, the Speaker Review Team provides the Program Managers with the rankings.

Abstract Review Team: This team is tasked with reviewing the 886 abstracts submitted by the 285 potential speakers. Abstracts are reviewed by a minimum of three people. The team is divided into smaller teams for each of the five learning tracks and review accordingly. Feedback is given to every single abstract. The abstract review team first rates the abstract (without any speaker information or speakerID). After the teams have rated all the abstracts, they are tasked with ranking the abstracts for each track and recommending sessions to the Program Development Team.

The Program Committee offers guidance on the need for diversity of topics and speakers. At the outset, each speaker is assigned a speakerID number to maintain anonymity during scoring. Scorers can see whether they have ranked or recommended multiple abstracts from the same speakerID within a particular track, but they don’t know who that speaker is. This provides the team enough visibility to evaluate sessions and speakers for balance.

Program Development Team (Program Managers/Director): From May until the beginning of June, the program is built. The contributing factors include:

    • Rankings and recommendations from the individual teams
    • Topic, speaker, and session level
    • Repeat sessions from prior year
    • Session types (Pre-cons, Lightning talks, Half-day sessions, General sessions, and Labs)
    • Duplicate sessions
    • Depth and breadth of sessions across all tracks

After the Program Development team builds the Program, submitters are notified of their session status and, as of last year, are sent feedback on their abstract. After all submitters are notified, the community sessions are announced publicly by the end of June.

Special Project Team: From July onwards, the Special Project Team looks at the learning paths, predicting room assignment to ensure that rooms are not overcrowded and improving the schedule builder to be useful to both attendees and PASS Summit Operations teams.

Microsoft Sessions: Around early August, the Program Development Team works with Microsoft to understand what it wants to present and to ensure there is no overlap between Microsoft and the community sessions. This partnership has led to a more cohesive program where both the community and Microsoft sessions build upon and complement one another, leading to a fantastic and well-rounded program.

The Program Team is always open to feedback and ways to improve the Selection Process and the PASS Summit Program. We received feedback over the past year, and some of those changes were implemented this year:

    • In the process to review abstracts and the workflows for the team leads, all abstracts across all teams are now reviewed by at least three people.
    • The speaker profile was updated to allow for the submitter to list all their PASS and non-PASS presentation history. We are also working with IT to incorporate a lot of the SQLSaturday, Virtual Chapter, and User Group speaking events. We have been waiting until the rebuild of the SQLSaturday site is completed so that we can incorporate that functionality automatically. We wanted to be sure speakers could do that this year so we have implemented a table where you can add your speaker history. We added the video review, which was a request from the Speaker Review Team, so we can see samples of people speaking.
    • Improvements to the speaker resource page included updating the handbook, adding an FAQ page, and improving the process for the team leads.
    • Finally, the Program Team has improved the communication with the team leads through weekly calls and is working closely with PASS HQ and IT. Marcella and Leeza at PASS HQ were recognized for their support and commitment.

Amy introduced Lance Harra and explained that he has volunteered with the Program Team for 10 years and this year was promoted to Lead Program Manager.  In addition, Mindy Curnutt and Angela Henry have joined the Program Management Team to lead all the Program-related efforts throughout the year.

With an overview of the team and their responsibilities complete, the Q&A commenced with questions from the community. The full recording is available here. Look for more information about the next Q&A on the Board Contact Us page and in the Connector as we head into the next quarter.

Amy Lewis
PASS Board Member, Programs

Inside the PASS Board's May Meeting

June 23, 2015 — I wanted to take a minute to offer a recap of our May 15th meeting. The focus of the meeting was to review the “lessons learned” materials regarding the 2015 PASS Business Analytics conference. The discussion was led by Jen Stirrup, Director of the PASS Business Analytics portfolio. Here are the highlights from that discussion.

Jen reviewed the growing industry trends for Business Analytics and how PASS can play a critical role in that community. Organizations need people who understand data in a variety of ways (curation, administration, management, custodian, and analysis). Business analytics enables companies to incorporate data-drive decision making. PASS is well positioned to offering learning opportunities for members to expand their current roles into new careers, as well as offer companies seeking BA practitioners a place to find talented data professionals.

The PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015 presented the right content for its audience. A review of attendee titles show that the conference attracted and engaged its intended audience. According to a sponsor survey from the conference, 87% of exhibitors and sponsors are interested in future PASS BA conferences.

The Board heard from PASS HQ representatives about the opportunity that PASS has to support the BA community. With Gartner predicting in excess of 4 million analytics jobs by the end of this year many companies are struggling to find talent. People who work in data with a focus on the Microsoft data platform want to learn methods for making data-based decisions. PASS can help to foster this community and present content to support those needs.

PASS is working hard to determine the best venue and logistics for future BA conference events. The Board discussed potential options as well as resources and strategic direction.

A full review of the PASS BA 2015 conference will be held at the in-person June Board meeting in Vancouver, Canada. For more details about the May meetings, see the posted minutes on the PASS Governance page. Also, keep an eye on the BA Insights and Connector newsletters and on this blog, for news from the next Board meeting.

As always, stay in touch by contacting us. We welcome any and all feedback!

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Changes to the 2015 PASS Board Elections

June 24, 2015--The 2014 NomCom was tasked to streamline the process for evaluating candidates as well as to enhance community engagement.

The 2015 elections cycle will highlight those changes.

We’ve expanded the minimum criteria for candidates to identify the skills, experience, and qualifications needed to help set the strategic direction for PASS. Here are the minimum criteria needed for candidates to be considered to move to the interview round:
• Be a current eligible voting member of PASS
• Have direct volunteer experience with PASS
• Work with one of the Microsoft data technologies
• Be free of conflict of interest that would affect eligibility
• Be fluent in written and spoken English
• Agree to the time and travel commitments required to serve on the PASS Board of Directors
• Submit three references with a statement of support

In addition, to enhance community engagement and give voters an opportunity to make a more educated vote, the NomCom has made a change to the way candidates will be weighted and publication of that weighting. If an applicant meets the outlined minimum criteria, they will move to the interview round. Each applicant will then be interviewed based on categories to measure the strength of their candidacy. No overall ranking will be published; instead an aggregate score for each category will be published. This will give the community transparency on the strength of each applicant in each category and will provide more information for members to make an educated vote. Look for the 2015 PASS Board of Directors application August 5 on the PASS Elections page, which will outline all the minimum criteria in more detail. See the full details of the 2014 NomCom changes to the 2015 PASS Board elections here.

2015 NomCom

The NomCom is a five-member committee that manages the PASS Board of Directors elections process, qualifying, interviewing and weighting potential candidates. A final slate is then submitted to the Board for approval.

Immediate Past President Bill Graziano will chair this year’s NomCom, which will include three elected representatives reflecting the three seats up for the PASS Board this year: one EMEA seat, one US/Canada seat, and one open seat. A representative appointed by the PASS Board will round up the committee.

Who’s Eligible to Run?

To be eligible to run for the NomCom, candidates must have a demonstrable track record of volunteering with PASS – such as serving as a Regional Mentor, Chapter or Virtual Chapter Leader, or Program Committee member – and participating in other volunteer endeavors. Note that as an essential part of the PASS Board elections process, the NomCom requires significant time and effort. By applying for the NomCom, applicants agree to the time commitments of the entire general elections process, including Board applicant interviews.

PASS Summit 2015 Community Sessions

June 26, 2015--Have you heard the news? We’ve announced the speakers and session lineup for PASS Summit 2015 – and we think it’s the best one yet! Each year, the Program Team has the difficult task of choosing sessions from amongst a wealth of wonderful submissions. I want to tell everyone who submitted this year how much we appreciate the support and dedication of this community.

How We Choose

The program-selection process is a continually fine-tuned process designed to help ensure a fair, objective, and well-balanced program. Program Committee volunteers are assigned to review abstracts, speakers, or PowerPoint decks. Each team has specific duties that help ensure the integrity of our selection process. Scores and ratings are used to determine the top sessions from each track, and we used these to fill the community session slots. We look for a balanced track that contains sessions that represent all the key topics across a variety of skill levels and without a great deal of duplication. We also look for a good mix of both seasoned speakers and new voices. Still have questions about the process, we have a helpful FAQ you page you can refer back to. 

This year, 67 of our volunteers reviewed a total of 886 abstracts. Of those submissions, 20% were chosen for our community sessions, representing 52% of the speakers who submitted. 28% of those speakers will be speaking at PASS Summit for the first time!

Next Steps

Now that the community sessions have been selected, the next step is to open the Microsoft call for speakers. We’ll work with Microsoft to make sure that these submissions complement the community sessions; stay tuned for these sessions to be announced in August.

We’ll also begin constructing learning paths to make it easier for attendees to choose between sessions.  As always, we welcome your feedback on any step of this process.  
Finally, we will work to build the schedule, including partnering with Microsoft and the Program Committee Special Project team of volunteers to utilize data science to predict session attendance and schedule sessions into the appropriate sized rooms and timeslots. You can read more about the success of this additional process last year in Dev Nambi’s blogs: PASS Attendance and Summit Feedback

A Big Thank You 

Once again, thank you to all who submitted—and to all the volunteers who worked so hard these past few months during the selection process, particularly our Program Team Managers Lance Harra, Mindy Curnutt and Angela Henry. 

We can’t wait for you to dive into the lineup for this year’s PASS Summit, the premier event by and for the SQL Server Community. Help us spread the word, and don’t forget to register by July 12 to save $400 on registration—plus contact your Local or Virtual Chapter for an additional $150 savings! See you in Seattle!

– Amy Lewis
PASS Director of Programs

PASS and Business Analytics: A Winning Combination

June 29, 2015--The results are in and the PASS Business Analytics Conference (BAC) 2015 was a success! At the recent Board meeting this month, the PASS Board reviewed the outcomes of this event and discussed the future of PASS Business Analytics (BA). A primary goal of the PASS Board of Directors is not just to maintain but to improve the health of our organization and our community. Reaching this goal means offering the best learning environments possible, such as PASS Summit, 24 Hours of PASS, and more. It also means looking beyond today’s landscape and preparing for the future of SQL Server and related data technologies. 
Over the past few years, we’ve watched as companies across all industries embrace data to become more competitive, results-oriented, and data-driven. This has created significant new challenges and opportunities in data analytics and BA. Now, experienced BA and data analytics professionals are in high demand and short supply. And those entering this nascent field are in need of the type of community and learning environment that SQL Server professionals enjoy as PASS members.

This is one of the reasons that we started PASS BAC in 2013. Like most new endeavors, it’s taken a few years to find its bearings. Following PASS BAC 2014, we evolved to support the needs of business and data analysts. This included revamping content and refining our focus within the analyst audience. So we rebooted BAC 2015, tailoring it to focus on those who consume data and use it to drive business decisions. 

With this refined approach, we renewed our focus on providing real-world, applicable learning that can give attendees an immediate and direct means to benefit their organizations—just as PASS Summit provides for DBAs and other data facilitators. We created a conference for people who extract and manipulate data using technologies such as Excel, Power BI, SQL, Hive, and R throughout all the stages in the analytical process. We delivered practical, best practices information, hands-on training, and visionary thought leadership.

Were we successful? Well, 77% of attendees were in our target Analyst audience. Our hands-on lab sessions were overflowing, the Expo Hall was buzzing, and more than half the BA and business intelligence (BI) attendees said that they would recommend the conference to colleagues, noting that we’d delivered “practical/effective training” that was both “inspiring” and “interactive”.

Our audience reported that their primary interests were upgrading their skills and finding a community for continued networking—and we saw that community forming right in front of us. As a result, the PASS BA Planning Committee made several recommendations to the PASS Board of Directors during the Board’s June 2015 meeting: 

* PASS should continue organizing a conference for data and business analysts.
We should continue with our refined approach for PASS BAC 2016.
* We should continue to engage with the BA audience and influencers.
* We should build a coherent development and engagement strategy for this growing community.

The Board agreed. By continuing to invest in PASS BAC and by fostering a community, we can meet the unique needs of business and data analysts. We already have many offerings that serve PASS members who are interested in BA. And we have growing resources and support from willing volunteers. From the Business Analytics and Excel Business Intelligence Virtual Chapters and BA Insights newsletter to webinars, the pieces are in place to support PASS BAC and the growth of our community, including the establishment of an advisory committee and a three-year plan laying out the best way to move forward. 

We are excited about the opportunities and benefits that these decisions will provide for all data professions within the PASS community. If you have any questions or feedback, we want to hear from you. And we hope you’ll help us spread the word about this new community to the data and business analysts in your organizations.

- Jen Stirrup
PASS Board Member

PASS Welcomes LATAM Regional Board Advisors

July 3, 2015--As Chair of PASS’s Global Growth Committee I am pleased to introduce our two new regional board advisors for the Latin America (LATAM) region: Eduardo Castro, from Costa Rica, and Diego Nogare, from Brazil. Eduardo and Diego, who were appointed to one year terms (through June 2, 2016) by the PASS Board of Directors, will help PASS continue to grow our support for data professionals throughout the global community.

Eduardo and Diego were identified as advisors to the LATAM region because of their long history and service in their local PASS communities. Both gentlemen have hosted extremely successful SQLSaturday events in their respective countries; their local chapters are thriving. As MVPs, both Eduardo and Diego have strong community relationships, as well as an in-depth understanding of the strengths and challenges that are specific to their local SQL Server communities.

This appointment is the latest step in PASS’s Global Growth Initiatives, which were launched in 2011 with the appointment of three international board advisors and made further strides in 2013 with the introduction of an earmarked Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) seat on the Board of Directors. As part of these initiatives, one of PASS’s goals for FY2015 has been to establish a strong foundation in the LATAM region. We aim to support the global SQL community through programs that serve Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking PASS members. This goal is just one part of our vision to expand PASS’s benefits and events worldwide.

Over the next several months, the new regional advisors will meet regularly with our Global Growth Committee and will join Board meetings. Together, they will work with PASS to communicate the needs of their communities and to help PASS develop and provide the best resources for the LATAM Region. We are thrilled to have their help as we plan ways to offer for the best support, events, and resources for worldwide the data community.

Please join me in congratulating Diego and Eduardo on their new roles.

Adam Jorgensen
EVP, Finance & Governance, PASS Board of Directors

PASS dá as Boas Vindas aos LATAM Regional Board Advisors

03 de julho de 2015--Como presidente do comitê de crescimento global do PASS eu tenho o prazer de anunciar nossos dois novos Regional Board Advisors para América Latina (LATAM): Eduardo Castro, da Costa Rica, e Diego Nogare, do Brasil. Eduardo e Diego foram nomeados por um ano (até 2 de Junho de 2016) pelo PASS Board of Directors, e ajudarão o PASS a continuar o crescimento e suporte à profissionais de dados nas comunidades globais.

Eduardo e Diego foram identificados como assessores para a região de LATAM por seu longo histórico e serviços para as comunidades locais do PASS. Ambos tem organizado eventos do SQLSaturdays com extremo sucesso em seus respectivos países; seus capítulos locais estão prosperando. Como MVPs, tanto Eduardo quanto Diego possuem forte relacionamento com a comunidade, como também um entendimento profundo dos pontos fortes e dos desafios que são pertinentes para suas comunidades locais de SQL Server.

Esta nomeação é o mais recente passo das iniciativas de crescimento global do PASS que foram lançadas em 2011 com a nomeação de três assessores do comitê internacional e fez mais avanços em 2013 com a inclusão de um assento da região Europa, Oriente Médio e Africa (EMEA) no Conselho Administrativo. Como parte contínua destas iniciativas, um dos objetivos do PASS para o ano fiscal de 2015 foi estabelecer uma base sólida na região de LATAM. Nosso objetivo é apoiar as comunidades globais de SQL Server através de programas que sirvam membros do PASS de língua espanhola e portuguesa. Esta meta é apenas uma parte de nossa visão para expandir os benefícios e eventos do PASS em todo o mundo.

Ao longo dos próximos meses os novos assessores regionais irão se reunir regularmente com o comitê de crescimento global e também nas reuniões do conselho. Juntos irão trabalhar com o PASS para comunicar as necessidades de suas comunidades locais e para ajudar o PASS a desenvolver e fornecer melhores recursos para a região de LATAM. Estamos felizes em contar com esta ajuda no objetivo de oferecer o melhor apoio, realização de eventos e recursos para a comunidade mundial de dados.

Por favor, junte-se a mim para parabenizar Diego e Eduardo em suas novas funções.

Adam Jorgensen
EVP, Finance & Governance, PASS Board of Directors 

PASS da la Bienvenida a los LATAM Regional Board Advisors

03 de julio 2015--Como Presidente del Comité de Crecimiento Global de PASS me complace presentar a nuestros dos nuevos consejeros de Junta Directiva para la región de América Latina (LATAM): Eduardo Castro de Costa Rica y Diego Nogare de Brasil. Eduardo y Diego fueron nombrados por un plazo de un año (hasta el 2 de junio de 2016) por el PASS Board of Directors, y ayudarán para que PASS aumente el apoyo a los profesionales de datos en toda la comunidad mundial.

Eduardo y Diego fueron identificados como asesores de la región de LATAM debido a su larga trayectoria y el servicio que brinda en sus comunidades locales de PASS. Ambos han organizado eventos SQLSaturday extremadamente exitosos en sus respectivos países; y sus capítulos locales están prosperando. Como MVP, tanto Eduardo como Diego tienen relaciones comunitarias fuertes, así como un conocimiento en profundidad de las fortalezas y desafíos que son específicas de sus comunidades locales de SQL Server.

Este nombramiento es el último paso en las iniciativas de Global Growth Initiatives de PASS, las cuales iniciaron en el año 2011 con el nombramiento de tres asesores internacionales en la Junta Directiva y se realizaron nuevos avances en 2013 con la introducción de puesto en la Junta Directiva para la región de Europa, Medio Este y Africa (EMEA). Como parte de estas iniciativas, una de las metas del PASS para el año fiscal 2015 ha sido la de establecer una base sólida en la región de LATAM. Nuestro objetivo es apoyar a la comunidad global a través de programas que ayuden a los miembros PASS de habla hispana y portuguesa. Esta meta es sólo una parte de nuestra visión de expandir los beneficios y eventos de PASS a nivel global.

En los próximos meses, los nuevos asesores regionales se reunirán regularmente con nuestro Comité de Crecimiento Global y participarán en las reuniones de Junta Directiva de PASS. Juntos, van a trabajar con PASS para comunicar las necesidades de sus comunidades y para desarrollar y proporcionar los mejores recursos para la región de LATAM. Estamos encantados de contar su ayuda a medida que que planeamos maneras de ofrecer el mejor apoyo, eventos y recursos para la comunidad mundial de datos.

Por favor, únanse a mí para felicitar a Diego y Eduardo en sus nuevas funciones.

Adam Jorgensen
EVP, Finance & Governance, PASS Board of Directors 

SQLRally Update

July 13--For the past six months we have been reviewing the events PASS runs and supports. We’ve evaluated the benefits our events provide the PASS community, focusing on how these benefits align with PASS’s mission. During this time, we found that the goals for SQLSaturday and SQLRally are similar, with those goals being to:

· Promote PASS community growth by supporting opportunities worldwide to connect, share, and learn with fellow data professionals

· Promote the growth of speakers and leaders throughout our community

· Provide the opportunity for local-language content

PASS offers numerous opportunities for both community networking and in-depth technical training in-person and online with events such as SQLSaturday, 24 Hours of PASS, and virtual and local chapters. Through the efforts of our dedicated volunteers, the SQLSaturday event has seen remarkable growth globally, supporting technical training opportunities at a regional level. There were 98 SQLSaturday events in FY2015, compared to 36 events in FY2011, the first year SQLRally was introduced.

These facts led us to look again at the SQLRally event model and the benefits it has been providing to the global PASS Community.

SQLRally was aimed to provide technical content and an event experience between what was offered at a SQLSaturday event and what was offered at the PASS Summit. However, as SQLSaturday events have grown in popularity and add-on features such as pre-conference days have been introduced, they have become better suited as the event model to meet the benefits outlined earlier.

As a result, we have voted to retire the global SQLRally brand and event model.

The resources we have been investing in global SQLRally events can then be reinvested into other models with similar community outreach. In the coming days, we will distribute a survey to all SQLSaturday event organizers in an effort to better understand the opportunities that exist in enhancing the current SQLSaturday model. We will continue to use similar surveys to evaluate the needs of our global community in an ongoing effort to better provide the full breadth and depth of education and training for the data professionals that make up our membership.

If you have any questions or feedback, or if you would like to participate in this survey, let us know. It’s our goal to provide the best resources and training for PASS members.

Thomas LaRock
PASS President